John Jay Papers

To John Jay from Richard Price, 25 November 1785

From Richard Price

Newington=Green Nov 25th: 1785

Dear Sir

I have received both the letters with which you have honored me, and I return you many thanks for them.1 I know your time must be much engaged by the duties of your office, and therefore I cannot but feel very Sensibly your kind attention which exceeds all that I could have any reason to expect. Your civility and friendship to Mr. Curtauld deserve my particular gratitude. His mother and family are much impress’d by them and hope you will be rewarded by finding that they are bestowed on an honest and virtuous young man who will make an useful member of the united States. They joyn with me in wishing he would follow your advice by being patient, and waiting, before he Settles on a farm of his own, till he has acquainted himself with Husbandry and the customs of the country. I Should write to him to give him this advice; but his mother will convey to him my sentiments.

I am a Sad Stranger to myself if my pamphlet2 address’d to the united States is not an effort of well meant zeal to promote their best interests and thro’ them the happiness of mankind. Though I have given offence in Some places, I have reason to be very well satisfy’d on the whole with the reception it has met with. Were I to write it again I should lower Some expressions in it, for I am Sensible that I have been too hasty and Sanguine in my expectations. I cannot, however, despair while I know that Such a person as you are, and many others of whose wisdom, integrity and liberal principles I have high opinion, are members of the united States and concerned in advising and directing them. I now See that Such an improved State of Society ^in America^ as I wish for must be the work of more time than I imagined; and, perhaps, the result of Severe Struggles and conflicts Still to be gone thro’. Affairs between this country and yours wear a dark complexion; It is unhappy for us that the coalition between Ld North and Mr Fox prevented the makers of the peace from completing it. Our councils now are under a different direction, nor is there any probability of a change. I lament continually our wretched policy. We are throwing away the trade and the friendship of a world rapidly increasing, and forcing it into the Scale of France. Should the issue be a total alienation, and the conversion of the extreme of love into the extreme of hatred, the fault will be more chiefly ours, and we Shall be the greatest Sufferers. Trade is essential to our existence. On the contrary, the rage for trade is one of your greatest enemies; and all events that check it may do you the greatest Service. Were even all of your ports Shut up, you would be only render’d more independent and Secure; and in a course of years you might with the aid of Simple manners, general liberty, plenty produced by agriculture, and a Strong federal union, become the most powerful and happy people on earth. At present your affairs I am afraid are far from being in this train. God forbid that in consequence of luxury, mercantile avarice, and the feebleness of the federal governmt the united States should ever become an image of our Europe.

I ask pardon for entering in to these reflexions. I did not intend them when I begun this letter. I am very happy in the friendship of Mr Adams; He will give ^Send^ better information than I can give. All (as you observe at the end of your letter) that the best men can do is to persevere in doing their duty to their country leaving the consequences to the disposer of all events. The Satisfaction attending ^happiness attending the consequences of^ Such conduct is the greatest any of us can enjoy. This is a happiness wch; I doubt not, you will enjoy. Wishing you, Dear Sr., every possible blessing I am, With great respect, Your oblig’d humble Servt:

Richd. Price

We have been lately alarmed here by the news of the final Settlemt of a defensive alliance between France and Holland. Our ministers used very extraordinary means to prevent ^it^ when too late. There will, I Suppose, be the Same kind of after=wisdom and repentance when the united States (a body of brethren that a wise policy might have made of more use to us than ever) are entirely alienated and perhaps drove to Similar union.

ALS, NNC (EJ: 13210). Endorsed by JJ, misdated “1786”.

1See JJ’s letters to Price of 24 Aug. and 27 Sept. 1785, above.

2Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World.

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